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 20180626《靜思妙蓮華》不懼邪行 入世度生 (第1378集) (法華經·勸持品第十三)

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發表主題: 20180626《靜思妙蓮華》不懼邪行 入世度生 (第1378集) (法華經·勸持品第十三)   周二 6月 26, 2018 8:16 am

20180626《靜思妙蓮華》不懼邪行 入世度生 (第1378集) (法華經·勸持品第十三)

⊙發誓弘經菩薩,擬於末法惡世,邪智人中振鈴,難測塵劫初心;恆持入世度生,不懼邪行存慢,剛強難調難伏,持願堪忍住娑婆。
⊙「即時諸菩薩俱同發聲而說偈言:惟願不為慮,於佛滅度後,恐佈惡世中,我等當廣說。」《法華經勸持品第十三》
⊙「有諸無智人,惡口罵詈等,及加刀杖者,我等皆當忍。」《法華經勸持品第十三》
⊙「惡世中比丘,邪智心諂曲,未得謂為得,我慢心充滿。或有阿練若,納衣在空閒,自謂行真道,輕賤人間者。」《法華經勸持品第十三》
⊙惡世中比丘,邪智心諂曲:惡世之僧,無正智慧,生諸異見,心地不直,諂佞迂曲。
⊙未得謂為得:如第四禪無聞比丘,本是凡夫,妄自尊大,以為得道,妄言證聖。
⊙我慢心充滿:自高我慢,自命不凡,邪心充滿。末世惡比丘之慢相。
⊙或有阿練若:此云空靜處,謂或有人修空靜行。阿練若:村落閒寂處。
⊙阿練若:亦云無諍,一、以三昧力將護眾生,令不起諍。二、隨順法性,無違無諍。
⊙阿練若具四德:當念此處:一、多聞:總持不忘。二、分別:能解妙義。三、正念:常不放逸。四、隨順:如教而行。
⊙寶雲經云:阿練若者,不與世諍。不近不遠便於乞食有樹蔭,多華果,足淨水,無難事,獨無侶,誦所聞。
⊙納衣在空閒:冬夏常被一納之衣。納衣:行頭陀行者之納衣。在彼空閑處修於空靜。
⊙自謂行真道,輕賤人間者:自謂所行是真實道,輕賤人間行化之者。
⊙人間:指不居阿練若而與世人之間往來凡居此者,謂調煩惱故,自謂行真道,無多聞。

【證嚴上人開示】
發誓弘經菩薩,擬於末法惡世,邪智人中振鈴,難測塵劫初心;恆持入世度生,不懼邪行存慢,剛強難調難伏,持願堪忍住娑婆。

發誓弘經菩薩
擬於末法惡世
邪智人中振鈴
難測塵劫初心
恆持入世度生
不懼邪行存慢
剛強難調難伏
持願堪忍住娑婆

就是發誓弘經的菩薩,大家已經都準備好了,大家已經決心,願意發願在末法惡世,這個世間裡,他們願意在這個,邪智人中來振鈴,這何其難得的大願啊!佛陀為法募人,他為了佛法一大事來教育人間,希望人人法接收、入心,啟發願力,入人群去傳法,度眾生,這是佛陀的心願。但是在這個娑婆世界受苦,嚇到了,人人既然得到佛法了,了解娑婆世界是這樣這麼的苦,因緣一不小心,開口動舌、舉手動足、起心動念,身、口、意三業就這樣造成了,這很危險,大家怕,不敢再來娑婆。既然知道道理,這個「苦」是從「集」,「集」種種的原因,因緣而來受報。而這些「集」來的因緣,都是在身、口、意這三業中。「口」,簡單動一個口舌,話若沒說好,或者是語言出口傷人,或者是這「六根」,耳聞人語,耳朵聽人家的話,擾亂了心思。將話聽來,惡言惡語或者是綺語或者是兩舌,亂了我們的心。到底什麼是「是」,什麼是「非」?「惡言惡語中傷我,我起煩惱。」像這樣,這種的心態,煩惱一起,人與人之間就會造業,這種起心動念,身體的動作就出來了,表情也出來了,舉手動足,這個行為無不都是造作業力。

所以,開口動舌、舉手動作,還有起心動念。我們凡夫心總是不穩定,有時好,有時就是煩躁,像這樣,靜和動無法平衡,使得我們的心煩惱滿滿,所以永遠都是在這個娑婆世界。大家怕了,難得人身,更難聞佛法;聞了佛法,又能修行,今生的業力能夠今生了,不要再來娑婆惹煩惱。所以,大家得佛授記了,發願他方世界去度眾生,不願留在娑婆裡。這就是佛陀一路走來,面對著弟子殷殷教育,所盼望的是人人發心、立願;但是發心了,也已經立願了,但是願生他方世界,這就是佛陀失望的。所期待的,希望人人在這個地方學,在這個地方解,在這個地方解脫,應該要再回饋在這個地方,生生世世,應該要為娑婆世界,苦難眾生去付出,怎麼人人都要脫離呢?

所以佛陀,語言停止了,就期待,是不是有人願意發願呢?所以,眼觀大家,視一切周圍,終於能夠看到知心,了解佛陀、契佛心、解佛意。這群菩薩願意,站起來,來到佛的面前,向佛發願,願意再來人間,只要是佛陀所關心的地方,他們都會願意去度眾生,去啟發眾生。人人發心行正行,修菩薩道。這是我們一路說過來,現在〈勸持品〉,這也是我們要很用心體會,契佛心、解佛意。這些菩薩就已經這樣,「發誓弘經」,這些菩薩心理已經準備好了,願意在這個末世,就是在佛的時代未來的人間。佛法,在佛的時代很昌盛,慢慢、慢慢正法就消除,不見了,漸漸就成為像法這個時期。像法,大家全都是,要怎麼樣求得功德啊?建塔、造廟、造像,這都是很盛行,很多很多的國家。

就像緬甸,萬塔之國。我們大共修,緬甸慈濟人也在裡面。緬甸菩薩要告假時,蘇老師他說:「其實,那個時候,緬甸那個塔是近十萬的佛塔,很多。」這是可見在那個時代,那個時代,是什麼時代呢?像法的時代。尤其是這個時代,他們能夠記載那個故事,蒲甘城(位於曼德勒省Mandalay蒲甘Bagan)萬佛塔,很多很多的佛塔;這些塔,創建在近千年前,有歷史、有故事,這留下來到現在,那些塔還在。但就是一個地震,這樣瞬間,差不多有四百多座的塔毀損了。慈濟人到那個地方去,看到那些塔的毀損,他們還有參與去搬到磚塊。一些塔倒了之後,很多比丘動員去那個地方,他們就是要將這些磚塊,一塊一塊這樣再收起來;裡面去找,找出了塔中有什麼樣的,隱藏著的東西。

所以,他們的村莊,搬得到磚塊,大家也覺得,那些磚塊都是寶。因為,知道是近千年,這全都是古代的,尤其是塔的磚,所以禁止人去搬,就是要有比丘領導的人,才能夠去接近,去搬磚。這是真實,不是虛構的故事,這叫做像法。我們近代,就是像法慢慢已經,慢慢損毀掉了,不論是人為或者是天災,這已經慢慢損毀掉了。卻是現在已經是末法了,末法時代,現在這個末法,已經對這個「像」,有形象的都不起恭敬心了,何況對無形的法呢?所以現在叫做「末法時代」。

現在人,法就已經不重視了,人間的人倫道理都不重視,何況出世的諦理呢?當然是離開人更遠,所以叫做末法。人若離開了道理,那就是沒有人倫了,就會惡世,叫做「末法惡世」。這種惡的事情不斷會發生,而且這個惡世的造成,就是邪智的人,很迷了,已經沒有正知、正見、正思惟,全都沒有了,所以就叫做「邪」,不正為邪。所以「邪智」,聰明,但是就是偏差,這叫做「邪智」。這些菩薩已經發心立願,願意在這個「邪智人中」來振鈴。大家都睡著了、沉迷了,在個地方就要搖起這個鈴,讓大家能清醒起來。像我們一大早三點多,就是負責的人要比大家更早,提早起來敲板,叫醒了大家。鐘的聲音,鈴聲又更響亮,讓大家在沉睡中能醒悟起來,所以叫做「邪智人中振鈴」。

其實「難測塵劫初心,恆持入世度生」。這些菩薩應該已經在過去過去,難以測量的塵點劫開始就發心。所以,人人都恆持著這念心,入世,現在助佛道場,不斷發願入世度眾生。現在佛陀靈鷲山說法,他們也在這個地方來聽,看到娑婆這些修行者畏懼在娑婆世界,儘管發心了,還是要到其他的國土,難免佛陀,心非常的落寞。所以,他們看到佛陀的眼光,這樣接觸到了,大家也就這樣開始啟發,就來向佛發願,願意入世度眾生,不怕,「不懼邪行存慢,剛強難調難伏」,他們都不怕。「因為這個濁世法末,這我慢心,慢心很重的剛強眾生,我們不怕,願意投入,大家怕,但我們不怕,願意投入,不論他多麼的剛強難調伏,我們都願意進去。」

所以,「持願堪忍」,我們願意持經,我們發願,我們就是立願堪得忍耐,願意住在娑婆世界,就是來來回回。娑婆眾生苦難偏多,剛強者多,就是這樣所以受苦難,所以更需要正法來度化,我們願意。所以這就是大家向佛表達出了,這樣的心願。

所以前面的經文,看,那個時候這些菩薩從座起,就在佛前,向佛表達心意發願了,之後,大家:「俱同發聲,而說偈言。」大家共同發出了聲音,向佛再表達,重新表達。

即時諸菩薩
俱同發聲
而說偈言
惟願不為慮
於佛滅度後
恐佈惡世中
我等當廣說
《法華經勸持品第十三》

這是表示長行文過了之後,表達的心意,表示很有決心,這樣重述一次,大家發心的願力。所以再說偈言,「惟願不為慮,於佛滅度後,恐怖惡世中,我等當廣說」。在這個很恐怖的,人心不調和,這麼剛強的娑婆,我們不怕,我們要進去。「我等當廣說」,這些人才是需要我們去和他們說話的時候,我們去引導他們,我們去帶他們,這就是大家下定決心。

有諸無智人
惡口罵詈等
及加刀杖者
我等皆當忍
《法華經勸持品第十三》

所以,這些人「有諸無智人」,這些都是無智的人,我們願意入那個地方。失去了理智,那就是「惡口罵詈等」,像這樣,要對他說話,不聽;不聽,我們也沒有放棄,還是要在他們人群中,願意再付出。但是,有的人不只是不聽,還口出惡言,直接罵,或者從旁邊來中傷、誹謗等等,以這個口舌這樣來攻擊。或者是不只是用口罵,或者是用口舌、語言,「一人吐虛,萬人傳實」,用聲音來攻擊;不只是這樣,甚至再發怒,就動刀杖,再加上刀、棍全都出來。這樣的人,在這樣的環境中,「我等皆當忍」,我若面對著這樣的人,遇到這樣的環境,大家都能堪得忍耐。這是要讓佛能夠安心,「我們會忍耐,我們不會為了罵、打等等,就退縮了,我們還是堅持。」

接下來這段文說:「惡世中比丘,邪智心諂曲,未得謂為得,我慢心充滿。或有阿練若,納衣在空閒,自謂行真道,輕賤人間者。」

惡世中比丘
邪智心諂曲
未得謂為得
我慢心充滿
或有阿練若
納衣在空閒
自謂行真道
輕賤人間者
《法華經勸持品第十三》

「惡世中比丘,邪智心諂曲」。這就是末法,在這個末法的世代裡,雖然佛法好像在人間,看來好像像法是很昌盛,但是正法的時代,像法,也已經過去了,現在是末法,大家心中已經,法都已經衰微了。所以大家就是用那個形象,卻是無實,有相無實,只是有一個形,沒有內心的誠意。只是在這個惡世中,在這個剛強眾生群中,現出了佛教的團體,比丘的形象。這樣的人是「邪智心諂曲」,因為他的心不實,不是真正要修行。

惡世中比丘
邪智心諂曲:
惡世之僧
無正智慧
生諸異見
心地不直
諂佞迂曲

所以「惡世之僧,無正智慧」。這就是沒有正確的智慧,看起來會說法,看起來很莊嚴。一些信佛的人,信仰佛法的,很尊重,就是敬佛、敬僧、敬法,所以大家都是這樣的心態。但是,修行者自己本身,是不是真修行呢?修行者的心態,不正智慧,沒有正確的智慧,這是在惡世中,有部分的僧就是這樣。所以「生諸異見,心地不直,諂佞迂曲」,就是他的心沒有正確的智慧。他在人間,智是分別智,對佛法的分析,他不正確,因緣果報也沒有很清楚,自己的行為,戒、定、慧都偏差掉了,所以「無正智慧」。在人群中,「生諸異見」,對佛法又生起種種,不正確的見解,不懂得好好納受,還是偏差的意見。所以,心地,修行者的心地,就是不直,名稱修行,不是真實修行,因為他的心對佛法,「生諸異見,心地不直」。我們常常說「直心為道場」,但是他的心地不直。

不直,是什麼?那就是「諂佞迂曲」,就是奉承著在家人護法,就是這樣諂佞,對他說好話,不引導這些信徒好好正知正見,只是要討好大家的支持,所以就是這樣心思不正,講話都是諂媚。諂媚,就是無實,講好聽話,講得要讓護法者,能夠一直擁護他、供應他,所以這種諂佞迂曲;不直,不是直接真正教導人人,能夠向於正法,就是偏差,只是大家歡喜就好。歡喜,要看是不是有法的法喜呢?若只是這樣一般,這佛法永遠都沉迷在那,「像」和「末」,這佛法永遠都無法回歸到,佛陀的時代,正知正見。佛陀為一大事因緣來人間,是要開導人的智慧,不是要讓人就是這樣一直沉迷下去,無法去體會正法。這是多聞佛法,總是只是多一些「見」,多知見,但是就是無法多正見。

未得謂為得:
如第四禪無聞比丘
本是凡夫
妄自尊大
以為得道
妄言證聖

所以,「未得謂為得」。自己還沒有得,說我們自己已經得到了,這是這樣模樣,就好像是說:「我得很多了,我已經是四禪了。」到達「無學」的地位。我們常常讀到,「學」與「無學」。「學」,就是在求學的學僧;「無學」,就是,學的,該學的都學了,而且也得「四果」了,到不用再學,已經道理通徹,那叫做「無學」。「無學」,就不用再去聽法了,這種「四禪無聞比丘」,只是一直一直這樣說:「我坐禪,我就已經得道了。」就以為得了,其實自己還是凡夫。「本是凡夫,妄自尊大」,以為自己已經所得很多了,以為已經得道了,所以「妄言證聖」。以為自己已經證聖果了,這「未得謂為得」,告訴大家:「我已經都得到了,我得到什麼程度了。」這就是全都是妄言。

我慢心充滿:
自高我慢
自命不凡
邪心充滿
末世惡比丘之慢相

「我慢心充滿」。這種的自高我慢,「自命不凡,邪心充滿,末世惡比丘之慢相」,這樣的人,這叫做我慢心。我們人間社會比比皆是啊!可是在修行團體中,這樣的人也不少啊!所以,這就是末世,不正修行,這是少數有這樣的人。所以,「末世惡比丘之慢相」,這種非常的傲慢,「自高我慢,自命不凡,邪心充滿」,這種末世的惡比丘,他的形態就是這樣。

又另外,或者是「有阿練若」,這裡也叫做「空靜處」。

或有阿練若:
此云空靜處
謂或有人修空靜行
阿練若:
村落閒寂處

剛才那些是都在人間裡,現在這些,那就是在阿練若,就是在空曠僻靜的地方,在那個地方修行,名稱叫做「阿練若」,也就是在「村落閒寂處」。他也需要生活,雖然在閑靜的地方生活,但是也沒有離開人群,只是較僻靜的地方修行,叫做「阿練若」。所以「練若」就是這樣,也叫做清淨的地方,精舍的意思,這「阿練若」,也能夠叫做「無諍」。在那個地方專心修行,無諍,這修行者。

阿練若:
亦云無諍
一、 以三昧力
將護眾生
令不起諍
二、 隨順法性
無違無諍

無諍,住在這個地方的修行者,那就是「一、以三昧力,將護眾生,令不起諍」。在這個地方,這個修行的道場,就是小小的道場,這個地方就是要讓人人的心,安靜下來,正知、正見,能夠守護眾生,能夠沒有身、口、意三業,口和身體和心態的起落,都很安靜。第二,就是「隨順法性,無違無諍」。這種就是修行,住在練若裡面,他就是獨善其身,好好修行,「隨順法性,無違」,沒有違背這個法性,也與人無諍。還有,那就是在這裡面住,還有四德。

這四德就是,「一、多聞」。多聞,能夠「總持不忘」,因為靜,外面都沒有雜務,專心修行,所以他能夠聽,能夠持法不忘。第二,就是「分別:能解妙義」,能夠了解法的意思。

阿練若具四德:
當念此處:
一、 多聞:
總持不忘
二、 分別:
能解妙義
三、 正念:
常不放逸
四、 隨順:
如教而行

三呢?那就是「正念:常不放逸」,在這裡面修行,就是要不放逸。四呢?「隨順:如教而行」。

所以在《寶雲經》裡面,這樣一句話說:「阿練若者,不與世諍」。意思住在這個「練若」裡,就是與世無爭,對法能夠這樣好好自己修行,很靜的地方。

寶雲經云:
阿練若者
不與世諍
不近不遠
便於乞食
有樹蔭 多華果
足淨水 無難事
獨無侶 誦所聞

所以,它「不近不遠,便於乞食」。因為他們也要生活,練若,精舍是蓋在,村落閑靜的地方,就是不近也不遠。太近都市,太吵鬧;太遠,要乞食不方便,所以「不近不遠,便於乞食」。

所以「有樹蔭」的地方,有樹林的地方,或者是「多華果」的地方,有很充足的淨水,沒有其他複雜、困難的事情,只是比較沒有伴而已。因為在練若裡,在這裡在修行。有的是一個人、兩個人、三個人,少少人這樣在修行;環境要很優美,要入人群去托缽也很簡單。這個地方生活,就是「獨無侶」,只是比較沒有伴而已,很安靜。所以,「誦所聞」。聽法,就是要再讀誦、誦經等等,就是自修。像這樣的阿練若,他也是「衲衣在空閒」。

納衣在空閒:
冬夏常被一納之衣
納衣:
行頭陀行者之納衣
在彼空閑處
修於空靜

「衲衣在空閒」,就是「冬夏常一納衣」。在這個地方修行,生活很簡單。不只是住在「閑靜」,穿的也簡單,冬天、夏天都一樣,就是「一納衣」。「一納衣」就是縫補過,這樣層層疊疊,破掉再補,補了之後,破了,又再疊上去,這樣叫做「納衣」,也叫做「百納衣」。就是穿的衣服,全都是這樣的納衣,破掉再補的衣服。修行者本來都是,「糞掃衣」、「百納衣」,這都叫做修行者所穿的衣服。「納衣」,就是「行頭陀行者」。修苦行者就是穿這樣。「在彼空閑處修於空靜」,就是專門在修苦行的。

自謂行真道
輕賤人間者:
自謂所行是真實道
輕賤人間行化之者

「自謂行真道,輕賤人間者」。像這樣在修行,我們聽起來覺得,哇!很有修行,其實再看下去的文,「自謂行真道,輕賤人間者」。有的自謂阿練若,他以為「你看,我修行修得這麼清高,我不是像在這樣很繁擾的地方,這樣自高自大,很豪華的地方,不是哦!我是在這麼僻靜的地方,我是這麼簡單的修行,我是……,我很清高。我這樣才是真正修行。」所以,「自謂行真道,輕賤人間者」。他就是會輕賤,輕視這樣穿梭在人間的人。這是兩種極端的修行者,一種在人群中,奉承這些大護法;一種是這樣,說他在修苦行。這是兩種不同的心態,但這就是在末世,會有這樣的修行人。

所以,「自謂所行是真實道,輕賤人間行化之人」。有的人是真修行者,是聽聞佛法,願意發大心、立大願,入人群去,在人群中去淨化人心,但是自己出污泥而不染。像這樣在人間。但是,有的自以為修真道,在空閑處,這樣在靜修的人,他就輕視,輕賤這些修行在人間道,一概他全都輕視。這就是這樣的修行,他是心理沒有很正確。

人間:
指不居阿練若
而與世人之間往來
凡居此者
謂調煩惱故
自謂行真道
無多聞

所以,人間,就是「指不居阿練若,而與世人之間往來」,凡居這個地方的人,就是這些在阿練若的人,認為這些人(意指居人間者)都不對。但是,這些人不一定,不一定都是前面講過的,「諂曲心不正」,不一定。因為這些人,他們雖然在人間往來,卻是也要調種種的煩惱。有的自謂阿練若的人,他認為:我才是很清淨,我與世無爭,我全都沒有煩惱,卻不知道自己內心有在爭,爭著自己是自清高,爭著別人是滿心是煩惱。所以,「自謂行真道」。若像這樣的人,他就不要在人群,不要聽,只是光是說他自己在修行,所以,我們用心去體會佛法,應該要多了解,我們正法、像法、末法,修行者那個心靈過程。佛時代的修行者,雖然佛在世在教育,但是僧團裡面,有「六群比丘」,再加上了提婆達多離間僧團,也有很多靠著提婆達多,作威作惡,像這樣,這種也有啊!

但是,一直,多數的人都是真修行,直接聞法,也是真正真修行者,這就是正法在世。看看舍利弗、目犍連等等,所領導的,佛陀所授記的五百人、二千人、八千人等等,六千比丘尼,這些都是真修行者。只是一個缺點,大家真修行,但是不敢住在娑婆世界,就只想要自我解脫。這是佛陀的時代,也有不完美的地方,何況經過了像法;像法,大家求功德;何況到了末法這個當中,大家總是求供養,求福。總而言之,這就是佛法在人間,這個人間,大家不敢在這個地方,就是因為人心就是這麼難調伏。佛陀的時代就難調伏了,何況到現在呢?這就是修行難啊!這就是所以世間的濁氣這麼重,這不是沒有原因。凡是娑婆世界就是這樣這麼苦,佛陀在世就沒有辦法將它淨化,在佛陀的僧團中,就難能讓人人真正是勇猛精進,願意發心,在人間好好引導眾生。大家,有修行的要逃避,這個世間永遠就是這樣,缺有發大心、立大願。

現在,看到這些菩薩,已經願意了,即使未來惡濁的人間,有這樣的比丘,他們也不怕,願意投入這個人間,來調伏這樣的修行者,或者是來教化一般的人間。所以,這是很勇猛的菩薩,我們要了解這種濁世的時代,了解人的心態,所以,人人時時要多用心!


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發表主題: 回復: 20180626《靜思妙蓮華》不懼邪行 入世度生 (第1378集) (法華經·勸持品第十三)   周三 12月 19, 2018 8:04 pm

Explanations by Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: Entering the World without Fear of Evil (不懼邪行 入世度生)
Date: June.26.2018

“The Bodhisattvas who made vows to advance the sutra intended to go into the evil world during the era of Dharma-degeneration and ring the bell among people of deviant knowledge. It is hard to fathom their initial aspiration, which, for dust-inked kalpas, they persistently upheld as they entered the world of transform sentient beings. They did not fear evil deeds or arrogance, nor how people would be stubborn and difficult to train and transform. They will uphold their vows as they endure and abide in the Saha World.”

All those Bodhisattvas who made vows to advance the sutra were already prepared. They were already determined. They willingly made vows to be in the evil world during the era of Dharma-degeneration. In this world, they were willing to go among people of deviant knowledge to ring the bell. What an extraordinary vow this is! The Buddha recruited people for the sake of the Dharma. For the one great cause of the Buddha-Dharma, He came to teach the world, hoping everyone would take the Dharma to heart and bring out the power of their vows to go among people to transmit the Dharma and transform sentient beings. That is the Buddha’s heartfelt wish. However, the suffering in this Saha World scared them. Since they had all received the Buddha-Dharma, they understood that the Saha World is full of suffering and that if they were careless, every word, every action and every thought they gave rise to would create the Threefold Karma of body, speech and mind. This would be very dangerous. So, all were afraid to return to the Saha World. Since they knew the principles, [they knew] how “suffering” comes from “causation”. This “causation” is the accumulation of causes and conditions, resulting in retributions, and the causes and conditions accumulated all arise from the Threefold Karma of the body, mind, and speech. As for “speech,” just the simple act of speaking [is dangerous]. Our words may not come out right, or our words may hurt others. Or with our “Six Roots,” our ears may hear what other people say, which then disturbs our minds. When we listen and take the words in, negative or harsh words, flattery or gossip will disturb our minds. What exactly is “right” and what exactly is “wrong”? When harsh words hurt us, we give rise to afflictions. With such a mindset, once people give rise to afflictions, they create negative karma toward each other. Once we give rise to these thoughts, we take action with our bodies and show negative expressions on our faces. With every move we make, in all our actions, we create karmic forces. So, whether we open our mouths to speak, move to take action or give rise to thoughts, our unenlightened minds are never settled. Our minds are sometimes calm, sometimes troubled. In this way, we cannot remain stable between stillness and motion, causing our minds to be filled with afflictions. That is why we are always in this Saha World. Everyone was afraid. It is rare to be born human, and it is even rare to listen to the Dharma. Since they had heard the Dharma and could engage in spiritual practice, the karmic forces of this lifetime could be brought to an end in this lifetime. They did not want to return to the Saha World and stir up more afflictions.

So, as everyone received the Buddha’s predictions, they vowed to go to other lands to transform sentient beings. They were unwilling to stay in the Saha World, which is what the Buddha all along had been patiently teachings His disciples, hoping for everyone to form aspirations and make vows. However, when they formed aspirations and made their vows, they vowed to be born in other worlds. This disappointed the Buddha. What He hoped for was that, as everyone learned in this place, reached understanding in this place and attained liberation in this place, they ought to give back to this place. For countless lifetimes, they should be in this Saha World, giving of themselves for all suffering beings. How could everyone want to escape from here?

So, the Buddha stopped speaking and waited to see if anyone would be willing to make vows. He gazed at everyone around Him. Finally, He could see people who knew His heart. They understood the Buddha, resonated with His mind, and understood His intention. So, this group of Bodhisattvas was willing; they stood up and came before the Buddha. They made vows to the Buddha; they were willing to return to the human realm. As long as it was a place the Buddha cared for, they were willing to go there to transform and awaken sentient beings. So, they all formed aspirations to practice right conduct and follow the Bodhisattva-path. This is what we have been discussing.

Now, in the Chapter on Encouragement to Uphold the Sutra, this is what we must mindfully comprehend. When it came to resonating with the Buddha-mind and understanding the Buddha’s intent, these Bodhisattvas had already “made vows to advance the sutra”. These Bodhisattvas were mentally prepared and willing to be in this era of Dharma-degeneration, which is the future seen from the Buddha’s era. The Buddha-Dharma prospered during His era, but gradually Right Dharma diminished and eventually disappeared. Gradually, it became the era of Dharma-semblance. In the era of Dharma-semblance, everyone sought ways to obtain merits and virtue. Building stupa’s, shrines and statues was very common and popular. This was the case in many countries.

For instance, Myanmar is known as the nation of ten thousand stupa’s. In our [recent] spiritual retreat, Burmese Tzu Chi volunteers joined us as well. When the Burmese Bodhisattvas bid us farewell, Mr. Su said, “Actually, at that time, there were tens of thousands of stupa’s in Myanmar.” So clearly, in that era…. What era was that? The era of Dharma-semblance. In this era, people were able to record [many] stories. Pagan was the city of ten thousand stupas. The stupas were built nearly a thousand years ago. They are steeped in history and stories and are there even to the present day. These stupas are still there. However, there was an earthquake. In one instant, more than 400 were destroyed or damaged.

When Tzu Chi volunteers went there, they saw the destroyed stupas and they helped with moving the bricks. After some of the stupas collapsed, many biases mobilized to go there to collect these bricks one at a time. They looked among the bricks, seeking what was hidden in the stupas.

So, in that village, those bricks that could be moved were treasures according to everyone there, because they knew they were nearly 1000 years old. These were from ancient times. In particular, because they were from stupa’s, people were forbidden from moving the bricks. Only people led by the biases were allowed to approach and move the bricks. This is a true story, not fiction. This is called the era of Dharma-semblance. In our recent times, even the era of Dharma-semblance has gradually ended and these [artifacts] have been destroyed. Whether due to man-made or natural disasters, [artifacts are] slowly being destroyed. Now, we are in the era of Dharma-degeneration. In this era of Dharma-degeneration, there is no longer any reverence towards these tangible representations of the Dharma, let alone towards the intangible Dharma. So, this is now the era of Dharma-degeneration. People nowadays no longer value the Dharma. They do not value the moral principles of the world, let alone world-transcending true principles. Of course, these are further away from people. So, this is called Dharma-degeneration. If people depart from the principles, then there will be no morals, resulting in “the evil world during the era of Dharma-degeneration”. In this time, evil events will continue to occur.

Moreover, this evil world will leak to there being people with deviant knowledge, who are very deluded. They no longer have any right understanding, right views or right thinking. They have lost all that. So, we use the term “deviant”. What is not “right” is “deviant,” so we speak of “deviant knowledge”. Those who are intelligent but have deviated are said to have “deviant knowledge”. These Bodhisattvas had already formed aspirations and made vows. They were willing to “right the bell among people of deviant knowledge”. Everyone had fallen asleep; they had become lost. They would have to ring the bell in this place so that everyone could awaken. This is just like how we wake up before 4am. Those on duty must wake up even earlier to strike the board and awaken everyone. The sound of the bell is even more resounding to help everyone in deep sleep to awaken. That is “ringing the bell among people of deviant knowledge”.

Actually, “It is hard to fathom their initial aspiration, which, for dust-inked kalpas, they persistently upheld as they entered the world to transform sentient begins.” The Bodhisattvas must have formed aspirations dust-inked kalpas ago. So, they all persistently upheld this aspiration to enter the world and assist the Buddha at His Dharma-assembly. They continually vowed to enter the world and transform all sentient beings. Now that the Buddha was teaching on Vulture Peak, they also came to listen. They saw that the practitioners in the Saha World were afraid to remain here. Although they formed aspirations, they wanted to go to other lands. It was hard for the Buddha not to be disappointed. So, what they saw the Buddha’s gaze and made eye contact with Him, everyone became inspired and made vows to the Buddha. They were willing to enter the world to transform sentient beings without fear. “They did not fear evil deeds or ignorance nor how people would be stubborn and difficult.” They were no longer afraid. “Because this is the turbid world of the era of Dharma-degeneration, there is such arrogance. Stubborn sentient beings are full of arrogance.”

We are unafraid and willing to devote ourselves. Everyone else is afraid, but we are not afraid. We are willing to dedicate ourselves. No matter how stubborn and hard to tame they are, we are all willing to go. So, “They would uphold their vows as they endure. We are willing to uphold the sutra and make vows. We vow to patiently endure; we are willing to abide in the Saha World. We will repeatedly come back”. Sentient beings in the Saha World are suffering. Those who are stubborn are numerous; that is why they are suffering. So, they need the Right Dharma to transform them. “We are willing”. Everyone made such vows to the Buddha.

So, in the previous passage, we saw how these Bodhisattvas rose from their seats and came in front of the Buddha to express to Him their vows and aspirations. Afterwards, everyone, “joined their voices together and spoke in verse”. Everyone joined their voices together to express [their intent] again to the Buddha.

Right away, all the Bodhisattvas joined their voices together and spoke this verse. “We only wish for the Buddha not to worry. After the Buddha enters Parinirvana, in this terrifying and evil world, we will all widely teach [this sutra]”.

This means after the long-form prose in which they expressed their intent and their firm resolve, they again reiterated the power of their vows. Thus, they “spoke this verse”. “We only wish for the Buddha not to worry. After the Buddha enters Parinirvana, in this terrifying and evil world, we will all widely teach [this sutra]”. Although this Saha World is terrifying and people’s hearts are in disharmony, even with such stubborn people in the Saha world, they were not afraid; “We want to go. We will all widely teach [this sutra]”. These people needed them to go speak with them at precisely this time, to guide them and lead them. This was what everyone resolved to do.

If there are ignorant people who reprimand us with harsh words and attack us with knives and sticks, we will endure them all.

So, “if there are ignorant people” means these will all be ignorant people. We are willing to go into that place. When people have lost their sense of reason, they “will reprimand us with harsh words”. That is how they will behave. “They will not listen when we speak. Despite this, we will never give up. We will go among these people and willingly give of ourselves further”.

However, some people go beyond just not listening; they directly reprimand us with harsh words and also slander and insult us behind our backs. They attack us in their speech. Some reprimand us with harsh words or hurt us with their speech, [spreading lies]. “One man’s lie becomes truth for a thousand”. Some will use their voices to attack us. Not only this, in moments of rage, some will use knives and sticks to attack us. They attack us with knives and sticks. There are such people in such an environment. “We will endure them all”. If we encounter these types of people or this type of environment, we must all learn to patiently endure this. This was to give the Buddha peace of mind. “We will patiently endure. We will not let harsh words or violence make us retreat. We will still persevere”.

The following sutra passage states, “In the evil world, there may be bhiksus with deviant knowledge and devious minds who claim to have attained what they have not, their minds full of arrogance. Or there may be arrays, dressed in ragged clothes and dwelling in remote places, who claim to practice the true path and disdain the human world. In the evil world, there may be bhiksus” with deviant views and devious minds.

This [speak of] the era of Dharma-degeneration. In the era of Dharma-degeneration, though the Dharma seems to exist in the world and appears to prosper, the eras of Right Dharma and Dharma-semblance have passed. Now, we are in the era of Dharma-degeneration. In everyone’s mind, the Dharma has already diminished. So, people only use these appearances but there is no substance. They have appearances but lack substance. They only have the appearance but lack sincerity in their hearts. Thus, these people in this evil world, among these stubborn sentient beings, give the appearance of a Buddhist community and manifest the appearance of bhiksus. These people have “deviant knowledge and deviant minds”. Their minds lack true substance. They do not truly want to engage in practice.

In the evil world, there may be bhiksus with deviant knowledge and devious minds: There will be monastics in the evil world who lack right wisdom and give rise to deviant views. Their minds are not upright and they engage in devious flattery.

“There will be monastics in the evil world who lack right wisdom”. These people lack proper wisdom. They appear to be able to teach the Dharma and they appear to be very dignified. Some people who have faith in the Buddha-Dharma have a lot of respect for the Buddha, the Sangha and the Dharma. So, they will all have this attitude [toward them]. But are the [monastic] practitioners themselves truly engaging in spiritual practice? Some spiritual practitioners’ mindsets lack right wisdom. In this evil world, this is how some monastics are. So, they are “giving rise to deviant views”. “Their minds are not upright and they engage in devious flattery”. Their minds lack right wisdom. In the human realm, we need discerning wisdom. But their analysis of the Dharma is incorrect and they do not clearly understand the law of karma. Even in their own behavior, their practice of precepts, Samadhi and wisdom has gone off course. So, they “lack right wisdom”. When they go among people, they “give rise to deviant views”. Regarding the Dharma, they give rise to various incorrect views and understanding. They do not earnestly accept it but continue to hold on to their deviant views. Therefore, the mindset of such spiritual practitioners is not genuine. They say they are practicing but they are not really practicing, because in their minds, regarding the Dharma, they “give rise to deviant views” and “their minds are not upright” We often say, “A genuine mind is where spiritual training takes place” However, “their state of mind is not genuine”. What does it mean to not be genuine? It means “They engage in devious flattery”. They flatter lay Dharma-protectors. That is how they engage in flattery. They say many nice words but do not earnestly guide these followers toward right understanding and right views. They only want to gain the people’s support. That is how their thinking is deviant and their words are full of flattery. Flattery is something that lacks substance. They speak flattering words so that these Dharma-protectors will continue to support and provide for them. Such flattery and deviant behavior is insincere, they do not directly guide people toward Right Dharma. Thus it is deviant. They only seek to make everyone happy. When it comes to happiness, we must determine whether it is Dharma-joy.

If it is just ordinary [joy], then the Buddha-Dharma will forever remain at the stages of “semblance” and “degeneration”. The Buddha-Dharma will never return to the Buddha’s era of right understanding and right-views. The Buddha came to the world for one great cause, which was to awaken people’s wisdom so the people would not remain deluded and unable to comprehend the Right Dharma. But when they listen more to the Buddha-Dharma they only gain more “views and understanding”, they only gain more “views and understanding, but they are unable to gain more right views”.

They claim to have attained what they have not: They claim to be unlearned bhiksus at the fourth Dhyana. They are fundamentally ordinary beings but are wildly arrogant and pompous. They think they have attained the truth and falsely claim to have realize the noble stage.

“They claim to have attained what they have not”. They have not yet attained [realizations], but they claim that they have. They give off this false impression as if they attained very high realizations. They claim to be at the fourth dhyana, beyond the state of learning. We often read about “those at and beyond the stage of learning. Those at the stage of learning” refers to monastics who are still learning. “Those beyond the stage of learning” are those who have learned all they should learn and have attained the Four Fruits They do not need to learn anymore. They have thoroughly understood the principles. This is called “beyond the stage of learning”. These people need not listen to the Dharma anymore. They are “unlearned bhiksus at the fourth dhyana”. [These people] continually claim, “I sat in mediatation and have attained the truth”. They think they have attained [realizations], but actually they are still ordinary beings. “They are fundamentally ordinary beings but are wildly arrogant and pompous”. They think that they have attained so much, that they have attained the truth. “Falsely claim to have realized the noble stage” means they think they have attained the fruits of the noble stage.

“They claim to have attained what they have not”. They tell everyone, “I have attained all there is to attain. I have attained such and such a level”. However, all their claims are false.

“Their minds full of arrogance” means, “They are conceited and arrogant, consider themselves to be above ordinary people and are full of deviant thoughts”. This is the arrogant appearance of evil bhiksus.

These people have minds full of arrogance. This is very common in our society. In the community of spiritual practitioners, there are many of these people as well. Thus, we are in the era of Dharma-degeneration and people do not engage in right spiritual practice. There is a small number of these people. “This is the arrogant appearance of evil bhisus in the era of Dharma degeneration.” They are incredibly arrogant. “They are conceited and arrogant, consider themselves to be above ordinary people and are full of deviant thoughts”. The evil bhiksus in the era of Dharma-degeneration are like this. “Or there may be aranyas”. This refers to “open and tranquil places”.

Or there may be aranyas: This refers to open and tranquil places or to people who engage in the practice of staying in emptiness and stillness Aranyas: They stay in the countryside In tranquil and remote places.

Those we just mentioned are in the world. Now, these aranyas are those in open, remote and quiet places. They engage in spiritual practice there. They are called “aranyas,” which means they are “staying in the countryside in tranquil and remote places”. These people also needed to survive. Although they were living in a serene place, they were not Isolated from people. They are just practicing in more serene places. These are “aranyas”.

So, that is the nature of “aranyas”. This refers to “tranquil places” or abodes. “Aranyas” also has the meaning of “no conflicts”. In the place they focus on spiritual practice. There are no conflicts to disturb them.

Aranyas: This also means “no conflicts”. 1. With the power of Samadhi, they protect sentient beings, helping them refrain from starting conflicts. 2. They follow the Dharma-nature without violations or conflicts.

There are no conflicts for the spiritual practitioners who live in those places. First, “With the power of Samadhi, they protect sentient beings, helping them refrain from starting conflicts”. This place, this small spiritual training ground, is meant to help everyone calm their minds and attain right understanding and right views. It can protect sentient beings from the Threefold Karma of body, speech and mind. The [activity] in our speech, body and mind will then be tranquil. Second. “They follow the Dharma-nature without violation or conflicts”. Those engaging in spiritual practice will live inside these places, the aranyas. They seek to awaken themselves and earnestly engage in spiritual practice. “They follow the Dharma-nature without violation”. They do not violate the Dharma-nature and have no conflicts with people. They also live in [the aranyas]. There are also the four virtues. The four virtues are, first, “learning extensively”. Learning extensively helps them “retain al teachings without forgetting”. It is tranquil, so there are no external distractions and they can focus on their spiritual practice. Thus, they are able to listen and retain the Dharma without forgetting anything.

The second [virtue] is “discerning. They can understand the wondrous meaning”. They understand the meaning of the Dharma. Thirdly, there is “right mindfulness. They always refrain from indolence”. To engage in spiritual practice inside, they must refrain from indolence. The fourth [virtue] is “following”. “They practice in accord with the teachings”. In the Treasure Cloud Sutra, it says: “Aranyas do not engage in conflicts with the world”. This means that those in the “aranyas” have no conflicts with the world, so they can earnestly engage in spiritual practice according to the Dharma. These are very tranquil places.

In the Treasure Cloud Sutra, it says: Aranyas do not engage in conflicts with the world. They live in places neither near nor far, where it is convenient to beg for food, where there are shady trees, plenty of flowers and fruits, sufficient clean water and no hardships. They live in solitude with no companions, chanting what they learn.

So, “They live in places neither near nor far, where it is convenient to beg for food”. This is because they also need to survive. The aranyas and abodes are established in tranquil rural places that are neither near nor far. Too close to a city, it is too noisy and busy, too far, and it is inconvenient to beg for food. So, “They live in places neither near nor far, where it is convenient to beg for food”. Thus, these are places with “shady trees,” where there are forests, or “plenty of fruits and flowers,” an abundance of clean water, and there are no other complicated distractions. It is just harder to find companionship, because in the aranyas those engaging in spiritual practice might be one person or other times two or three people. Only a few people are practicing. The environment is very beautiful and it is also convenient to beg for food among people. There are no complicated distractions here. Living in these places means “living in solitude with no companions”. It is harder to find company and it is very quiet.

So, they “chant what they learned” and listen to the Dharma. Then, they read and chant the sutras and so on. They practiced the Dharma on their own. In these aranyas, “[They are] dressed in ragged clothes and dwelling in remote places”.

[They are] dressed in ragged clothes and dwelling in remote places. Whether winter or summer, they always wear the same ragged clothes. Ragged clothes: This refers to the ragged robes of those who engage in dhuta practices. In open and remote places, they engage in the practice of staying in emptiness and stillness.

“[They are] dressed in ragged clothes and dwelling in remote places. Whether winter or summer, they always wear the same ragged clothes”. They engage in spiritual practice in this place and live a very simple life. Not only do they live in serenity, but they also wear simple attire. Whether winter or summer, they wear “the same ragged clothes”. “Ragged clothes” have been mended many times in layers of patches. As the clothes are torn they mend them; if another hole forms, they patch it again. Thus they are called “ragged clothes,” also knows as “hundred-patch clothes”. So, all they wear are such ragged clothes, mended over and over again. Spiritual practitioners originally wore “cast off rags” and “hundred-patch clothes”. These are what spiritual practitioners would wear. “Ragged robes of those who engaged in dhuta practices” means these are what ascetic practitioners wear. “In open and remote places, they engage in the practice of staying in emptiness and stillness”. That is the practice of asceticism.

They claim to practice the true path and disdain the human world: They claim their practice is the true path and disdain those who practice and transform beings in the human world.

“They claim to practice the true path and disdain the human world”. That is how they engage in spiritual practice. Hearing this, we at first feel, “Wow, such impressive spiritual practice!”. Actually, reading the following passage we see. “They claim to practice the true path and disdain the human world”. Some who claim to be aranyas think, “Look, I’ve attained such a high, pure level. I do not live in such hectic places, or act so arrogantly by living in a luxurious place, no!” “I live in a remote and tranquil location. I live such a simple life of spiritual practice. I am above it all. Only this true spiritual practice”. So, “They claim to practice the true path and disdain the human world”. They disdain the human world and hold contempt for those living in society. There are two extremes of spiritual practitioners. One extreme lives among people and flatters great Dharma-protectors while the other extreme claims to engage in ascetic practice. These are two different lifestyles of practitioners in the era of Dharma-degeneration. “They claim their practice is the true path and disdain those who practice and transform among the human world”. Some are true spiritual practitioners who listen to and learn the Dharma. They are willing to form great aspirations and make vows to go among people to bring purity to people’s minds. But they remain undefiled like lotus from the mud while [abiding] in the world.

However, some think that they follow the true path by quietly practicing in open and remote places. They disdain those who engage in spiritual practice in the human world. They have a disdain for all these people. This is their spiritual practice. Their mindset is not very correct.

The human world: This refers to those who do not live in aranyas but interact with worldly people. Those who live in these places think they have tamed their afflictions, so they claim to practice the true Path without learning much.

So, “The human world refers to those who do not live in aranyas, but interact with worldly people”. Those who live in these places, those aranyas, those who live there, think that everyone else is wrong. However, not all these people are the same as those mentioned previously with “deviant and devious minds.” This may not be the case, because these people, as they are come and go in the world, must still tame various afflictions. Some who claim to be aranyas think, “I am the one who is pure because I have no conflict with the world. I have absolutely no afflictions.” They are unaware of the conflicts in their minds. They argue that they are above it all and argue that others are full of afflictions. So, “They claim to practice the true path.” These people do not want to live among people or listen; they only claim they are spiritual practitioners. Thus, we must mindfully comprehend the Dharma so that we can have a deeper understanding of the eras of Right Dharma, Dharma-semblance and Dharma-degeneration and of the spiritual journey of practitioners.

For practitioners in the Buddha’s era, though the Buddha was alive to teach them, within the Sangha, there were “the evil-natured bhiksus.” Moreover, there was the rift caused by Devadatta. There were many who sided with Devadatta to bully others and do evil deeds. These kinds of things happened as well!

However, throughout that period, the majority of people truly engaged in practice. They learned the Dharma directly and were true spiritual practitioners. This was how Right Dharma existed in this world. Look at Sariputra and Maudgalyayana and so on. They led the 500 people who received predictions from the Buddha. There were 2000 people, 8000 people and so on, as well as the 6000 bhiksunis. They were all true spiritual practitioners. They just had one shortcoming. They were all true spiritual practitioners, but they did not dare to remain in the Saha World; they only wanted to liberate themselves. During the Buddha’s era, there were these imperfections, to say nothing of the era of Dharma-semblance when everyone sought merits and virtues, let alone in the era of Dharma-degeneration, when people only seek offerings and blessings.

In summary, the Dharma exists in the human world. In this human world, no one dared to remain here because people’s minds are hard to train. They were hard to train during the Buddha’s era, to say nothing of our modern era. This is why spiritual practice is hard! There is much turbidity in the world. This is not without reason. This Saha World is always full of suffering. The Buddha could not purify it when He was alive. Even within the Buddha’s Sangha, it was hard to help everyone to diligently advance and willingly form aspirations to guide sentient beings in the human world. Everyone, even those who had cultivated wanted to run away. This is how the world has always been. We lack people with great aspirations and vows. Now we see these Bodhisattvas willing to enter the future world of turbidity. Even if there are bhiksus like those described, they will be unafraid. They willingly devote themselves to the world to tame these spiritual practitioners and to educate and transform ordinary people. Thus, these Bodhisattvas are very courageous. We must understand this era of turbidity and the mindset of its people. Thus, we must always be mindful!

(Source: Da Ai TV – Wisdom at Dawn program – Explanation by Master Chen-Yen)
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